Ronald Wilson Reagan, conservative revolutionary, visionary hero, genuine
patriot, cheerful warrior, freedom’s champion, America’s beloved 40th President,
died late Saturday. He was home at Bel Air district of Los Angeles, his loving
family at his bedside, when he then slipped the surly bounds of Earth to touch
the face of God, as he famously said of the Challenger crewmen. Reagan was 93.
“This is a sad hour in the life of America,” said Bush, noting that “A great
American life has come to an end.” In France to mark the 60th anniversary of the
D-Day landing, Bush spoke movingly as he fought back tears. “Ronald Reagan won
America’s respect with his greatness, and won its love with his goodness,” Bush
told reporters. “He had the confidence that comes with conviction, the strength
that comes with character, the grace that comes with humility, and the humor
that comes with wisdom.”
Reagan, the Great Communicator, the original mis-underestimated President, is
the reason why I got interested in politics to begin with. Quite young at the
time, I wasn’t much interested — nor versed — in the ‘issues’ back then,
beyond the usual High School stuff. Things like monetary policy, the Laffer
curve and the Gold Standard didn’t much interest me. Not yet at least. Like my
dad, who considered politicians by nature “crooks — every last one of them,” I
was cynical to the bone about politics and politicians.
Then along came Ronald Reagan. He laid such cynicism and distrust to rest.
Truly a breath of fresh air, Reagan was so unlike your typical politician at
the time. He shattered every negative stereotype. He was a leader you knew in
your heart you could trust. Believing in Reagan was easy. It came so naturally.
The warmth of sincerity beamed from his face, it rang in his every word. Reagan
taught us this trust was not misplaced.
He also taught us to be proud to be Americans. He taught us not just to
dream, but to dream big, and to never give up on those dreams. And he taught us
why that was important. His ability to connect was extraordinary, his rapport
with ordinary folks exceptional. A forceful leader of conviction, he renewed our
national sense of mission and purpose, he restored our sense of direction,
rekindling that can-do spirit in all of us. He rebuilt our nation’s defenses. A
trailblazer and role model, Reagan transformed America’s political landscape.
Through the sheer force of unshakable idealism, a revolution — the Reagan
Revolution — was born. America never looked back. Putting the kabosh on the
Carter recession through tax cuts, Reagan sparked the longest and strongest
peace-time expansion in U.S. history, an era of unparalleled prosperity and
growth. The pompous elite set dismissed it early on as ‘trickle-down’
“Reaganomics”. Eight years and 23 million jobs later, Reagan got the last laugh.
With renewed incentives to work, save and invest, federal revenues doubled, even
as inflation and interest rates plummeted. Carter spoke drearily of limits, of
deep malaise; Reagan promised a renaissance. Carter talked bleakly of hardship
and woe, claiming America’s best days were behind her; Reagan spoke cheerfully
of that Shining City upon a Hill. The Reagan vision prevailed.
But Reagan left an indelible mark not just on economics. Reagan changed the
course of history itself. A powerful voice for freedom, Reagan hated communism
with every fiber of his being. At every opportunity, even against advice of top
aides, he loudly and forcefully spoke against it, famously calling the Soviet
Union the Evil Empire, the focus of evil in the modern world and a threat to
freedom everywhere. In Reagan, tyranny had no greater enemy, freedom no better
champion. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” thundered Reagan before a
cheering crowd at the Brandenburg Gate. Needless to say, Foggy Bottom was none
too thrilled — in vain Foggy Bottomites kept scratching out that line from his
speech. Reagan kept putting it back in. The Gipper never flinched.
His love of liberty unyielding, Ronald Reagan was a glowing tribute to human
freedom. To lovers of liberty toiling behind the ugly Iron Curtain, to all who
yearned for freedom, Reagan proved a powerful inspiration, his words a bedrock
of hope and strength during tyranny’s darkest hours.
A giant of his times, Reagan prided himself as the Incurable Optimist who
would not accept ‘Containment’ as the only option in dealing with communism. He
was also the quintessential Realist. If others had forgotten the lessons of
history, Reagan hadn’t. ‘Peace Through Strength’ and ‘Roll Back’ weren’t just
slogans, they were part of Reagan’s successful road-map to victory. From support
for Nicaraqua’s Freedom Fighters, to the watershed U.S.-led liberation of
Grenada, America was on the march. Against a hailstorm of elite ridicule and
scorn, Reagan confidently predicted communism’s eventual demise, vowing to lead
the way. Back then, such words were pure heresy.
“The years ahead will be great ones for our country, for the cause of
freedom, for the spread of civilization,” Reagan declared at a Notre Dame
commencement address in 1981. “The West will not contain communism, it will
transcend communism. We will not bother to denounce it; we’ll dismiss it as a
sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being
A few short years later, tumultuous events vindicated those words thoroughly,
as Reagan led the West to victory in the Cold War. The Gipper’s steadfast and
uncompromising commitment to restoring our nation’s defenses — particularly SDI
— and aggressive U.S. support for freedom movements inexorably broke the back
of Soviet communism. Yet again, Reagan’s chorus of critics had egg on their
faces. The rest, as they say, is history.
Want another reason why Americans love the Gipper so well?
Well, looking back, who can forget that razor sharp wit, his penchant for
disarmingly charming and memorable one-liners and quips, the magnetism and
warmth, the decency and kindness of President Reagan? A man of unconquerable
spirit, his exemplary life personified the very values that made America great.
Reagan’s was a true pick-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps life story, a
genuine rags-to-riches guy.
Through tragedy, Reagan, a deeply religious man, early on forged a bond with
the public. Barely two months in office, an assassin’s bullet nearly took his
life. Two bullets, actually. But even in such harrowing circumstances, Reagan’s
poise and grace, his wit and charm never relented. He had just regained
consciousness at George Washington University Hospital, when he jokingly told a
nurse holding his hand: “Does Nancy know about us?”
Laying on the operating table before surgery, Reagan uttered what became his
most memorable quip. Gazing up at his surgeons, he said: “Please, tell me you’re
President Reagan, just in case you’re lurking here, let me say, from the
bottom of my heart, we can never thank you enough for all you did, Sir. We will
always love and cherish your memory.
To Nancy and the family, we extend our condolences and offer our thoughts and
God bless President Reagan, God bless the United States of America.
My Two Cents...
Indeed.. God bless President Reagan. The county was such a better place with him at the helm. We sure had a great run when we elected leaders like him.
Wonderful tribute. So glad you saved it to repost it on this memorable occasion.
So glad I didn’t miss this the second time you posted it. Thanks John.
I'm glad some remember
Thanks, John ............................. FRegards
Thanks for reposting, and have a great day!
What a beautiful essay on Reagan! I knew you would write one, and was anxious to get home to see what you wrote. Wow! Ya’ done good...extremely good. ;o)
Even though I was out of town, I watched the Reagan ceremonies. Do you know what I remember most about his time as President? I felt safe. That’s not all...but that is something that is sorely lacking today. I felt safe with him as our leader, and am praying that I will feel safe, once again, with a different, more Reaganesque leader, in 2012.
Thank you so much, again, for this wonderful essay. You da’ bomb! ;o)